Race Car Set Up

The Basics 101

    Race car set up can make or break a race weekend.  It can make adequate drivers super stars, and good drivers back markers.  There are a lot of moving parts when setting up a car where one adjustment will upset another.  Much like fixing a wobbly table.  But if you understand the basics, and follow the procedure, it becomes quite easy.  Also, we all have different driving styles, so the fast set up car for one driver, will not suit another.  So the objective is to set up the car as neutral as possible, and then fine tune the suspension at the track for your driving style.   Now with that being said, I'm sure there are many other philosophies/methods which indeed may be  better than the way I do it, but this is what I have gathered over the past 25 years.

The Tools

    To start, you have to make or get some alignment equipment.  The first thing to do is to get the car on a perfectly level platform.  Despite building my garage with 24 inches of concrete and rebar, the floor eventually settled out of level.  So don't assume your floor is level.  The easiest way to get a fast and repeatable level surface is to buy a Level Bed.


    The level bed is adjusted via 8 jacking screws on the 4 corners.  Using a long digital level, you adjust the corners so that all 4 pads are level.  Note the black spray paint marks on the floor to mark the jacks so I can quickly set up the bed with little or no continued adjustments.  While this is a quick and mobile piece of equipment, you can achieve this same platform using 12" x 12" wood shims.   When I first got started in racing, I used wood paneling and leveled out 4 squares and did the same trick with spray paint on the garage floor to be able to repeat future set ups.  Either way, a leveled car is a must.


    With the car properly leveled, we will now need tools to align the car for toe and bump steer.  What I use on all my cars are home built alignment bars.  Unfortunately, since all cars are a bit different, there is no universal design and each one has to be custom made.  But with a little thought, it can be easily done.  The idea of the bars is to have fixed points on the chassis in order to take specific readings that are repeatable and accurate each time the bars are attached.  So the mounting points must be solid.  Here are the key points to keep in mind when studying your chassis to build these bars:

1)    The bar's top edge should pass through the center line of the axle horizontally.

2)    Try to find existing bolts on the car that can be easily removed and replaced for the mounting points in the front and rear, or a place where you can drill a hole for a bolt.

3)    Make sure the bars supports will hold the bar at the correct height and level.

    To be continued..........